jhmitchell

The Jade Writer Girl

Dear Reader,

Oh my goodness. Life. Sometimes life just happens, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Life explodes in all its grandour and chaos and mishaps and that means that sometimes, despite best intentions, things fall by the wayside. As I’m sure you’ve no doubt noticed.

At any rate, I’m getting back into the swing of things and I wanted to thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me during this quiet writing spell. I’ve got a few ideas I’m working on and hopefully some good news to share soon. I’ve got a story in the sidelines I’m hoping to get published. A pitching opportunity and GenreCon and, of course, my manuscript being edited.

In the background, and the main reason behind my absence, I finally have a new kitchen! My loungeroom is back in place and my main bedroom is no longer overcrowded – phew! Now that I have some room to breathe at home, time to hit the pages!

So have a little more patience dear readers, and I will have some fresh new content out soon. Thank you for sticking with my journey so far.

Sincerley,

The Jade Writer Girl


July 28, 2017

Dear reader,

One hopes to never take advantage of ones friends.

Also (in case you hadn’t noticed) I’ve been feeling rather sappy lately.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.

 

An Ode to BK

Sometimes I feel lost.

She wanders through my life,

and weaves a web throughout my thoughts

both real and make believe

two and yet also one.

Her laugh echoes across the plains of time

shifting in and out of reality,

transforming from something

hearty, jovial, ridiculous

to something else.

Something softer and fairy like.

Tinkling as only fiction can make you sound.

Sometimes I feel found.

In one world she is soft and clumsy

wise and yet naive

in need of protecting.

In the other she is feirce and strong and,

okay,

still a bit clumsy –

but she does the protecting.

In both she is bright and full of cheer.

She builds worlds of colour.

I build worlds with words – sometimes.

Sometimes I feel lucky.

I build her into another world.

Taking the known and bringing it forth

from memories

and laughter

to land amongst the characters on my page.

She builds me in the other.

Taking the doubts and the fear and lighting them on fire.

Taking a breathless girl – who is

moody

eccentric

frustrating and stubborn

igniting smiled of exasperation and eye rolls

and giving me,

with all my faults,

a shoulder to lean on.

Understanding the dizzying whirl a creative mind can

sometimes

spiral into.

The unreal,

the make believe her,

is delight and fun and a little bit mystic.

The real is so much more.

A scolding voice.

A teasing tone.

A boundless energy.

A rugged up night of Disney and sugar.

An eternal hug of belief.

A friend.

Who never cared that I stole her name,

and made her into make believe.

And really,

who wouldn’t want to fill the world with more BK?

1047-250

Dear Reader,

Sometimes you think you’re done with a story, but it’s not quite done with you. That’s what happened here. The story of the crossroads is still lurking about the corners of my mind so keep an eye out, and I hope you enjoy this next instalment.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.

Everything

The first girl he had ever kissed had been two years older than him. He was nine and a half and small for his age, but that hadn’t stopped him from grasping her shoulders, reaching up on his tip toes, and planting a big, clumsy kiss straight on her lips.

They were full lips. Big and quick to smile. But that hadn’t been why he kissed them. In truth, he hadn’t even really liked the girl they belonged to. She had shrieked at him so fiercely he hadn’t ever dared kiss her again.

Yet, she had been his first. Not because he liked her, not even because he’d really wanted to, but because a demon had once told him to try.

Ten years. Ten years before that very same demon would come to claim his soul with a kiss of her own. She had told him to practice. To ‘try it before you’re too grown up.’ It was a warning. He wasn’t going to grow up. He would never reach adulthood. He knew that. Had accepted it, even.

So, he took her advice. He tried. He practiced. He became renowned for it. The little boy who kissed girls. Just once. Once per girl. That was enough. He found that every kiss was unique. Some felt nice. Some felt sloppy. Some just plain awkward. Most were just okay.

As he grew so did his experience. He gave kisses freely and more often yet he found that the results rarely varied. They were okay. Not bad. Not great. Just okay.

The older he got, however, the closer he came to the end of those ten short years, the more he wondered what it would be like to kiss her.

Her lips which had been a soft pink, quirking up in a curious smile as she stared at him out of impossibly red eyes. Eyes that had bored through him, seen right to his very soul.

When he wasn’t thinking about kissing, he was thinking about her.

He knew he shouldn’t have. Knew that wasting his precious, limited time was ungrateful—stupid, even. There were others who would have given anything just to have the time he’d had. Others who would have given their souls—like he had.

A soul for a kiss.

Well, in truth it was more than a kiss, but the reason behind their deal no longer mattered.

He tried to focus on other things. His grades bounced around between poor and top of the class depending on his interests. He studied animals, built science projects, kissed girls—he’d even kissed a boy. Twice. Once just to see (don’t knock it til you try it was the saying, after all), then once more just to be sure.

It wasn’t for him.

He wondered if she ever thought of him?

He certainly thought of her. Of those red eyes that followed his dreams. The girl who was a demon, with hair that glowed like fire in the morning sun. She stood waiting for him when his eyes closed, standing barefoot in the dirt of the crossroad with the spring fields glowing golden behind her.

He counted the days until he would see her again. Until she would come to claim his soul with a kiss. A kiss that he hoped wouldn’t be clumsy.

He found that clumsy kisses weren’t so much because one had never kissed before, but more because of a lack of compatibility. Sometimes there was just no way for two people to mesh. That was okay. For every person that didn’t mesh, there was one that would.

He wondered, for ten years, if he would mesh with her? Until one day the ten years was up and she stood in the doorway of his room.

‘You’re here,’ he said. ‘Hello Morgana.’

‘Hello Morgan.’

Her voice was both soft and smooth, yet with a faint husky undertone. As if she didn’t speak often. As if she’d waited these ten years to speak only to him.

She closed the distance between them, her presence engulfing him, making his breathing quicken and his pulse race. She stared at him, red into green, and then, before he had a chance to brace himself, pressed those pale pink lips against his.

It wasn’t what he had expected. It wasn’t awkward. It wasn’t clumsy. It wasn’t even okay.

This kiss…this kiss was fire. It was heat. It was light. It was everything.

Her lips were dry and surprisingly cracked, chaffing against his with a fierceness that was at once rough and gentle. She was a contradiction. Her hair of fire, her eyes of blood, her hounds of hell—her touch, so soft and gentle.

She pulled back the faintest bit, so that their lips just barely touched. He opened his eyes, staring at her in wide wonder.

A kiss to end all kisses. A kiss to end his life.

Without a thought he pressed back to her, closing his eyes even as he felt the beginning of something wrong pulling at the core of him. His soul. Crying out a warning. A warning he ignored. He knew the price he had to pay for dealing with a demon. He knew there was no fighting it. No taking it back.

So instead he succumbed. Gave in. Relinquished control.

Instead he focused on this last kiss. So much better than his first.

His kiss with a demon.

No…his kiss with a demon…who was once a girl. A girl like him. Full of curiosity and wonder. Full of fire. Full of light.

In this last kiss, he saw her for what she really was. Beneath the darkness. Beneath the demon. She was a girl.

A girl that was, for this one moment, his.

Dear Reader,

A brief note before you read on:

The Price is an old short story I wrote for an assignment during university. I based it off the Faustian Bargain (which we had studied earlier in the year) and my teacher loved it. As I didn’t often delve into short stories back then, I was immensely proud of it; and still am. So much so that I honestly don’t believe any of the short stories I’ve written this year have matched it in worth.

Recently, however, the story has been on my mind – the characters floating about in the aether of my thoughts – and I realised that this story wasn’t finished with me yet. So, I sat down, and I wrote more.

Before I share that second part of this story, I thought I’d do some touch up’s and repost The Price here to share with you all.

I hope it gives you as much enjoyment reading it, as it has me.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.

The Price

The morning was dusky. The faint smell of freshly turned earth wafted in wisps on the morning mist. All was quiet. The sounds of morning muffled by the silence of the rising sun.

She appeared, as to be expected, at a crossroads. The roads were rough dirt, disappearing into the distance in all four directions. The ground was undisturbed except at the very centre of the intersection, where a small mound indicated a disturbance in the soil. Someone had been digging.

The boy completed the picture. He stood on the other side of the mound, feet bare and toes curling in the dirt as he stared at her. His grass coloured eyes shone, but burning deeper within their depths was a faint glow. A glow that only those with the power to see souls could perceive.

A power she possessed.

It was all the same. Except it was also different.

She took a moment to glance around. The fresh morning light—the glow of the sun peaking over the horizon—was foreign to her. It had been so long since she had witnessed a sunrise. Hers was the time of darkness and starless nights.

These morning hours, the soft spray of sunlight alighting on the morning dew, were the hours of angels. Just breathing sent short bursts of numbness through her, reminding her that she was a creature not meant for daylight hours.

She returned her attention to the boy.

He wilted away from her, chestnut hair falling around his face, green eyes wide and almost startled. Too innocent, yet far too knowing to have summoned her.

‘You’re eyes are red,’ he said, whispered, breathed.

His gaze was transfixed on her face. They stood for a moment. The human and the demon; each waiting for the other. Each curious. Each, just a little bit afraid.

She blinked and he shook himself, as if she had been holding him in place—though she knew she had yet to possess that power.

‘That means you’re her, ain’t you?’ he asked.

‘Yes.’

He shifted his weight, dropping his gaze back down to the ground, at the mound in the middle of the road. The one he had buried a part of himself in—likely a lock of hair or some precious keepsake.

When he looked up at her again, his eyes were a darker shade of green. Mosslike, yet still shining with the brightness of an innocent.

She suppressed a shiver. She had never dealt with a child before. Even teenagers were touched by the violence of the world. Tainted.

This one, however, was not. He was pure. It shone from him. From his eyes and his hair and his very pores. It sent a crawling feeling along her spine and the question of how he had come to summon her emblazoned on her mind.

She took another look around the crossroads, searching for another source of the summoning, searching for some other party, some protector or controller of this boy.

There was no one. Only the child, pure and innocent and still staring at her. It sent another chill through her.

She folded her arms and said, ‘What can I do for you?’

He swallowed and gave a little cough, as if clearing his throat, ‘Can you fix people?’

‘Fix people?’

He nodded. ‘My sister, she’s… she’s sick. Can you fix her?’ His eyes were hopeful, bright, and he added in a rush, ‘I can pay!’

‘Really?’ she asked, raising an eyebrow.

He nodded again, ‘Yes. You need a kiss, right? I can do that.’

She couldn’t help the smirk that twitched at the corners of her mouth.

‘Something like that,’ she said.

He hesitated, regaining that wide eyed expression that was like nails on a chalkboard to her soul. She flexed her fingers, attempting to rid them of the numbness that was beginning to seep into their tips.

‘It’s not a kiss?’ he asked, worry pitching his voice higher. ‘She said all I hadta give you was a kiss. I don’t got nothing else.’

Uncrossing her arms, she crouched down in front of him, eyebrows drawn. Here was her answer.

‘She?’

‘My sister,’ he explained, feet kicking at the soft dirt at his feet, eyes cast away from her face at her sudden nearness, ‘she’s sick. She said you can help her get better and all I gotta do is give you a kiss.’

She rested her elbows on her knees, feet sinking into the dirt. ‘She sent you?’

The boy nodded, eyes flicking up to hers and away again.

‘She told you how to find me?’

He nodded again.

She stood up, ‘What’s your name, kid?’

‘Morgan,’ he said, ‘What’s your name?’

She hesitated, her voice catching in her throat. ‘Didn’t your sister tell you?’ she asked.

He shook his head emphatically. ‘She just said I’d know you ‘cause of your red eyes,’ he paused and tilted his head to the side.

She hesitated before answering with a wry smile, ‘My name is Morgana.’

He blinked. ‘That’s like my name!’ he said, voice hitching high.

‘You don’t say?’

At her tone, he paused to look at her, leaning a little closer than she would have liked. She shifted backwards, having trouble focusing on his eyes and the consequent shine of his soul.

She stood up and took another look around. With a little more focus than she had used before, she looked around again, searching for the path the boy had come from. To the west she saw a flicker of blue, the dim light of an adult soul. She had not seen it in the glow of innocence that shone from the boy, but now it was obvious to her. The sickly outline of the blue soul, the flickering darkness of whatever illness was slowly consuming it.

Yes, that soul was one that would have no qualms coming out to the crossroads to bargain for life.

Morgana frowned at the house in the distance. ‘How old are you?’

‘I’m nine,’ said Morgan. ‘How old are you?’

She glanced at him, smirking again. ‘I’m very old.’

The boy tilted his head to the side, frowning as he looked her over. ‘You don’t look very old.’

She laughed and turned to him fully. She tried to spot some sort of darkness in the shine. Some sign that he was already tainted. He stared back at her, swaying slightly, hands moving unconsciously with the motion of the wind.

Morgana took a deep breath in. It had been so long since she had even seen a child so pure as this boy. This child with her namesake.

He would make a great addition to the King’s ranks. The brightest souls often turned the darkest, and she would be greatly rewarded for stealing such a prize from above. Yet the thought of carrying him…

She sighed. ‘I can fix your sister,’ she said.

His face turned brilliant and the shine from him brightened so much that she had to look away, ‘Really?’ he asked.

‘Quite easily.’

‘Like magic?’

The question gave her pause. Her past reared it’s distorted face in her mind, reminding her of all the reasons she stood there before the boy, rather than in another place. A place where the presence of a soul like his would not burn her.

Morgana tilted her head. ‘In another life, perhaps,’ she said softly. ‘What I do is more of an exchange.’

‘Exchange?’

‘I can grant you this… wish—,’ she said.

‘Like a genie!’ he exclaimed, interrupting her.

She raised her eyebrows, ‘Something like that,’ she said again, ‘But my wishes aren’t free.’

Morgan flushed and looked at the ground again, ‘Oh, the kiss?’

‘No,’ she said, ‘The kiss is how I give you the wish.’

The boy frowned, ‘So… how do I pay you?’

She crouched down in front of him again. ‘You give me your soul.’

He froze, eyes wide, sunlight gleaming off his hair and silence filling the fields around them. It was still, quiet, all animals having hidden from her presence, from her darkness.

The boy stood in that silence, caught in it, as her words slowly registered with him.

‘My-My soul?’

The brightness of him, and her closeness to it, made it hard for her to focus on him. His purity was raw and bold. Dangerous to her own darkness. Her hands tingled from it, alternating between numbness and a slow, creeping burn. It was her punishment, for daring to be so close to a creature such as Morgan.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘If you accept my deal, then your sister will be healed and you will have just ten years of life. And then I get your soul.’

His breath hitched. He swayed closer to her, and though his light itched through her, she stayed where she was.

‘T-Ten years?’ he said, eyes large and breath short.

Morgana nodded. It was the set price she gave all her customers. Non-negotiable.

He was silent. His feet shifted in the dirt. His hands clenched at the hem of his shirt. His head tilted, eyes drifting back the way he had come, back toward the house in the distance, and the soul that lived within it.

‘But you’ll fix her?’

‘Yes.’

‘Will…will I die? Without it?’

‘Yes.’

‘Will it hurt?’ His voice cracked on the last word, hitching in that way that precluded tears.

Morgana whispered, ‘Yes.’

He swallowed again. Hard. His gaze became unfocused as he turned back to her. Green bore into red. The child and the demon.

‘Ten years,’ he whispered. ‘I’ll be…’

She filled in the end of his sentence, ‘Nineteen.’

He looked up her, eyes glistening, and in that moment, she caught a greater glimpse of him.

His sister had known more than she had told him when she sent him on this errand. She had known the cost, and had not told him—had in fact, lied to him. He knew that now.

And yet…and yet she was all he had in the world. No parents or other living relatives to rely on. No one else to protect him.

Morgana saw this, saw it in the stark white of his soul. It scoured her, burned into her mind, and she knew his choice.

‘Okay,’ he whispered.

She didn’t ask if he was sure, didn’t check that he understood what he was asking for, what it would cost him. Nor did Morgana tell him what future awaited his sister’s soul for sending him to make her deal.

‘Have you ever been kissed before, Morgan?’

He scrunched his nose. ‘No,’ he said, ‘That’s gross stuff grown ups do.’

She laughed.

‘You might want to try it before you’re too grown up, or you won’t get a chance,’ she answered.

He frowned at her, but she ignored it, leaning forward to kiss his forehead.

The contact stung and she pulled away quickly, glad she had not touched his lips.

He looked up at her, eyes once again wide, impossibly so. She was so close she could see the flecks of yellow and lighter green in his eyes.

‘Did it hurt?’ he whispered, his breath ghosting over her face.

Morgana swallowed, ‘Ten years,’ she said. ‘Ten years and I’ll be back.’

He nodded but before she could even register the movement she was gone, leaving the boy standing alone at the crossroads while her own soul burned.

#

She was back for him, ten years to the day; despite the scars his touch had left on her own shackled soul. They still burned, from time to time, and though her King had rewarded her greatly, even offered her a higher position among his ranks, she did not feel the usual thrill upon collecting a soul.

He was waiting for her when she arrived.

Her hounds strained at her heals as she walked, salivating and snarling at each other, confused as to why they were being held back and taking it out on each other. She flashed them a look and they quelled.

As she entered the room the boy looked up at her. Though he was no longer a boy.

His eyes alighted on her, still so bright, and she felt that shiver from so long ago creep back through her. Back through the tips of her fingers and her lips, where she sometimes still felt the burn of his soul. It had left stains on her. Pure stains that streaked through the darkness.

‘You’re here,’ he said.

His voice was soft and calm. As before it was all the same. Except, as before, it was also different. He was not like the others. He did not run or plead or beg for another deal, for another ten years, another five, another one. Just one.

Instead he sat and greeted her.

‘Hello Morgana.’

She stilled her hounds with a wave and said, ‘Hello Morgan.’

He smiled at her and stood from the bed where he had been sitting cross-legged.

‘How is your sister?’ she asked, having not seen any sign of the soul she had healed.

He smiled, ‘She’s well,’ he said, ‘No more cancer, thanks to you. I said goodbye to her this morning.’

Her eyebrows shot up, ‘Goodbye?’

Morgan nodded, ‘Of course. I had to explain what was going to happen to me,’ he said. ‘But she already knew.’

It did not appear to bother him, his sister’s abuse of his soul, and she once again wondered if he truly comprehended the deal he had made.

‘You know, you never explained how it works,’ he said, ‘How you could just… take the cancer away. I’ve always wondered.’

She raised an eyebrow and smirked, ‘Like magic.’

He grinned at her, not the grin of those Morgana typically conversed with, but the good natured grin of a delighted child.

‘Perhaps you’ll find out,’ she added.

The reminder of his imminent death did little to diminish his smile and he leaned back against the bed frame to say, ‘Well. Let’s get this done then.’

He looked toward her hounds expectantly, and she knew that he had done his homework, that he knew how this was supposed to end. Instead, she closed the distance between them, so that she could once again see the flecks of gold in his eyes.

She kissed him.

His lips were hot against her own, searing at her own charred soul, tearing at the white streaks that already marred her.

He had taken her advice in regards to kisses.

She breathed in, sucking out his soul until the brightness left his eyes and instead filled her.

Her pain was her penance. His lack of pain, for the moment at least, her futile gift.

He was meant to suffer for his deal. That was the rule. That was what the hounds were for. It was their job. Her job. To let them rip through the physical of this world and tear into the fragile soul beneath.

This time though, this time the soul was too bright.

The price too high.

Dear Reader,

What does the story say to you when you are blind to all else but the words?

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.

_

‘Can I help you? … Hi, can I help you?’

‘Oh, uh, sorry. Um, no banana bread, er … chips! Can I have chips please?’

Sigh. ‘Kitchen closes at two.’

‘At two? Damn, that’s right. Uh, sorry, a, um, a chocolate please, that one and uh,’

Crinkle, rustle, Bleep. ‘Anything else?’

‘Uh, yeah, do you do milkshakes?’

‘… no.’

‘Oh … uh … Shit.’

‘Sorry?’

‘I said juice, I’ll have a juice please.’

‘What kind?’

‘Oh, apple please?’

‘That’s $7.90.’

‘Right, thank you. On card please.’ snick, bleep, crank! Slap.

‘Next please.’

Dear Reader,

The thing about writing is that it’s magic.

Think about it. The relationship between the writer and the reader is one that spans centuries and continents. It is a telepathic, teleportation device, transporting the reader to another world. Someone else’s world. Like magic.

The question is, how is that magic made? How is it brought to life? How do you send people away to another world to live another life?

Simple.

The thing about magic is the ingredients.

Imagination, Ink and Paper. That’s all you need to create real magic. All you need to spread spells across a page, to travel mountains and swim oceans. The key is the first ingredient. Imagination. Everyone has that spark of it somewhere within them, unique to every person, patented to their special brand of life. What’s more magical than that?

The thing about ingredients though, is how you put them together.

It’s all well and good to have that magic spark lighting up within you, but how do you get it out? Ink and Paper. Right now, these words are being scrawled across a page with a new pen, the words “weapon of mass creation” stamped across a blue backdrop in bold black letters. What’s more true than that? You, with your spark and your pen, are a weapon of mass creation. Creation. Magic.

The book is also new. Sort of. In reality it’s been sitting on a shelf, with its twenty-odd brothers and sisters, for just under a year now. They are all pretty little notebooks, collected from various forbidden entries into bookstores, or given as gifts by those who don’t quite understand the addiction they’re feeding. They are all empty notebooks.

The thing about ink is that it goes with paper like happiness goes with sadness.

Finding that right balance of darkness, so that the words are nice and smooth but don’t seep through the page to the other side. The ink itself must flow fast enough to keep up with the thoughts and words flowing from the tip but not so fast as to make a mess of things as it’s scrawled across a page in an illegible mess.

The thing about paper, the thing about notebooks is that they’re home.

Crack open a new book or notebook and you smell it. Passion, wonder, beauty, love, contentedness. This is why notebooks are so easy to purchase. They speak to you. Somehow, they reach out to that little spark of imagination within you and speak to it. Igniting that ember into a flame, a whisper. A delicious whisper. And, as you flick through the pages of the beautiful notebook, feeling the soft leather texture of a moleskin cover, that whisper grows louder. You’re possessed as you take it to the counter, the sound of pages falling against each other, and that lingering smell – any writer will know that it’s worth mentioning twice. That smell … it’s home.

The thing about home is that you can’t get caught up in keeping it nice and clean.

Home isn’t meant to be clean, it’s meant to be messy. Because that’s life. Messy and chaotic and scattered with scribbled out passages and scratched out words. Replacements squeezed into those tight spaces between lines. Life is chaotic. So too should be your writing. Especially those first writings, tentatively etched in your pretty new notebook with your too-fast-flowing ballpoint pen.

The thing about being neat and clean… is that you don’t have time for everything else – you don’t have time to get to the real crux of the matter. Creation. Magic. Life.

What else is there to be said? Don’t be neat. Let those whispers and embers turn into the ancient dance around the blazing fire. Let it be chaotic. Let it breathe life and fire and words and music, pounding away at the life pumping through your veins. Feel it. Feel that fire masquerading as a spark. Feel it surging, stuck in your throat until you’re not sure if you want to dance or be sick. Feel the wave crash over your mind, the light bulb burst into a thousand bright shards of somethings.

There! You feel that? That is magic. Words and ink and paper and a history of scrawled out words caving in on each other and bursting meaning into your mind from this sheet-covered table in a blue kitchen to wherever it is you are.

Magic is real. It’s right here, happening right now, between you and me. And the real question is: when is magic ever simple and neat and clean? It’s not.

So, be messy.

For that is the thing about writing.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl

Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago a close friend of mine told me a rather funny story of something that had happened to her at work. I confess I laughed quite a bit at her unfortunate tumble, and had such a splendid mental image I had to write a quick little story about it.

Thus, without further ado, I hope you enjoy Watch Your Step.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl

– – –

She trailed ahead of them, weaving her way through the long brownish green grasses with a graceful ease her companions envied.

The summer sky was bright and vividly blue, speckled with scattered stark white clouds. Sunlight shone in rays, casting dappled colours of contrasting light and shadows over the small group of wanderers.

‘You should slow down,’ called Tim, almost tripping over a concealed log as he and his best friend trailed after the girl bouncing along ahead of them.

She twirled, throwing her hands wide and her head back. Wild blonde curls flew about her face and Tim was sure that this was precisely why so many boys (and some girls) fell in love with her. She was the only person in the world who could make him think that, maybe, fairies really did exist. If they did, she would be one of them.

Green eyes, bright with the spirit of exercise, fixed on him. She traipsed backwards, hands trailing through the tops of the grass.

‘Why?’

Next to Tim, Ant staggered, his foot catching in a ditch. He grabbed hold of Tim, fingers digging in hard as he almost fell.

‘Why, she says,’ Ant muttered, blue eyes flashing up to Tim in exasperated fondness.

Tim grinned.

Ahead, the fairy-in-disguise, danced along. She skipped across two creeks, her ease carrying her across the water with barely a splash, while Tim’s graceless and impatient nature had him stomping through the water without a care for the soaking of his boots. Two steps behind him, Ant cursed, slipping over the rocks and almost tumbling into the water.

‘The trick is,’ she said, waltzing on ahead of them, casting a quick look over her shoulder at them. ‘to have confidence in your feet.’

Not a moment after she had finished speaking she vanished. For a moment Tim thought she really had become a fairy, vanishing into the summer afternoon within a beam of sunlight, not a single blonde curl left in sight.

A second later he heard her shriek of surprise. Abandoning Ant’s struggle through the brush, Tim darted forward to find his lost fairy-girl.

He broke through the grass to find her staring up at him, a stunned look on her freckled face. ‘I fell into a hole,’ she said, green eyes as wide and astonished as her voice.

A grin cracked Tim’s face, without a though to helping her out of the hole, he began to laugh.

‘Confidence in your feet,’ he chortled as Ant caught up to them. ‘Ant, Ant look…she fell into a hole! And not just a hole…it’s huge! Hehehe.’

‘Oh for heavens sake, Tim. Help her out, would you?’

Tim stepped back, still cackling, as Ant tried to yank her out. As she scrambled up out of the cavernous hole, Ant’s foot hit a rock and they both went tumbling. They crashed straight into Tim and the lot of them (Tim still laughing) went tumbling into the earth.

Tim’s laughter became infectious, and soon the three of them were giggling like children in the grass.

‘I guess,’ said Tim, once his laughter had subsided a little. ‘I guess even fairies fall over sometimes.’

Immediately the bubbling sound of her laughter ceased, and her head popped up into Tim’s view. ‘There are fairies here?’

Dear reader,

With all the madness going on lately I have decided that, despite my best efforts, my writerly aspirations for this year were a tad bit ambitious.

Whilst I do still wish to write every week, I am no longer going to put a label on what I am going to write. Instead of a micro fiction every week and a short story every fortnight, I am simply going to work on one piece a week, regardless of length.

This takes a little bit of pressure of, while still allowing for some play outside my novel projects.

Hopefully you, dear reader, still enjoy what comes of each weeks word play.

Sincerley,

The Jade Writer Girl

Dear Reader,

I was hoping to get some proper content out this weekend, but instead I was sucked into editing Extinguish and didn’t get around to my short story plans.

What I did do, however, was stumble across this brief idea I’d had around about draft 6 of Extinguish, when I’d planned to rewrite the entire first half with a completely different setting (well, I did that anyway, but not in this particular direction).

Since I’m kind of fond of parts of this scene but will be unlikely to reuse it, I thought I’d share it with you. It is completely unedited, and a little rough, but I like the idea of seeing how stories can evolve.

Even as the writer, sometimes it’s fun to see how differently a story could have turned out.

So here it is: A Scrapped idea (Extinguish)

There are three rules to surviving daily life at North Camp.

  1. Keep your head down.
  2. Stick to the hierarchy.
  3. Never talk back.

Three simple rules.

Most people managed to obey these rules without thinking. They didn’t complain when people cut in line, or correct others when they were called by the wrong name. Anonymity was a blessing. It means no one cares who you are, and that’s good.

So, the rules were obeyed. Without needing to be explained. Without needing to be broadcasted. It was common sense, and those of us left had only survived because of common sense.

Most of us, anyway.

I was only alive because of my twin brother, Freddie. He kept me safe. He was always there to keep me from getting trampled or lost whenever the threat of an outbreak loomed close and everyone lost their minds.

He navigated this strange new world we lived in with ease. Somehow getting his hands on high valued trading items, buying us safety and a room big enough for three.

I never asked how he did got the items. Or where he sold them. He wouldn’t have told me even if I’d asked. Freddie kept me alive, though, and so I never asked questions I knew he couldn’t answer.

How he stayed alive was a different matter. Freddie broke the three rules every day. He and Tim (our best friend) had copt more beatings than anyone else and yet still they lived on. They fought and snarled and scratched their way through the rules and the barriers that stood between them and whatever it was they had their minds set on that day.

Today, it happened to be basic training.

The use of the gym was in high demand and reserved mostly for soldiers and people who volunteered for the military. Tim did the odd job here and there when he was allowed (at sixteen we were all still underage), but even he had trouble reserving time at the gym. He got it, though. He had a certain ability to get what he wanted. It wasn’t charm or charisma, he just talked a good talk. He was blunt and honest and fierce. There wasn’t much Tim said he would do that you wouldn’t believe he’d do.

It was an air he held, something almost wild and … and ancient. Whatever it was that gave Tim his talents, he was the first one they’d ask if they needed an extra hand when no one of age was available. Freddie was the second. The two of them were a volatile mix and no one could deny that they were an effective team.

Where did that leave me? Well, I was the little sister. I was the girl. The small thing that needed protecting.

Not that it stopped Freddie or Tim from beating me up themselves.

Which again led to today’s purpose in the training room. The training room, by popular request of the soldiers who protected North Camp, was one of three rooms given some of the limited power supply to run air conditioning. Despite that, a sheen of sweat covered my skin.

Every cell in my body was sweating fear. My hands were slick around the stick I held in front of me like a shield. It wouldn’t stop him, and we both knew it.

Freddie took a step to the left, and I matched the movement, sliding my feet to the right. He grinned, lips quirking up just so, in a tense excitement. He was excited because he liked training. He liked the adrenaline and the sweat and the movement and the energy it consumed. It was something to do that he was good at.

He was tense because his opponent was me. It wouldn’t stop him from beating the living hell out of me, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.

His foot shifted, the toe shuffling an inch to the left. I threw myself sideways at the same time he lunged forward. For a moment he was completely open. Over his back, leaning against the wall watching us, I saw Tim straighten.

His dark eyes locked on mine and he gave a firm nod. Do it, those eyes told me.

My grip tightened on the stick. I took a step. Tim’s face fell. I kept moving around, guiding myself away from Freddie into a defensive stance. Freddie whirled around to face me, his face going hard.

‘You shoulda hit me,’ he said, his fists clenched.

I swallowed hard but said nothing. Anything I could say would just make him angry. He didn’t understand why I couldn’t fight back. Why all I could do was defend. It didn’t matter that I defended well.

Freddie threw himself towards me again. I shuffled back, keeping my stick between us at all times. If he’d had a stick of his own I might’ve been in trouble, but then, Freddie didn’t need a weapon to inflict pain.

My reluctance to strike left me open, and in a whirl of moment Freddie kicked at the stick, flicking it easily out of my hands. I turned, hoping to scramble after it, but Freddie’s solid chest slammed into me and we tumbled to the ground.

My defence was gone, but that didn’t mean I was helpless. I was small, and as Freddie and Tim constantly told me, that was an advantage over any opponent I would have. I twisted, fighting against his hold. He dug in with his hands. I’d known he would. He was always rougher when I didn’t fight back, trying to provoke me into lashing out.

We struggled, and Freddie kept pushing at me even after the bell went off, signalling the end of our time there.

‘Do something,’ he hissed at me. ‘Just hit me for Christ’s sake.’

‘I can’t!’ I said.

Though I tried to stop them, the tears sprang up in my eyes, betraying my weakness. I wasn’t hurt, not really. Freddie never struck hard enough to really hurt me. He didn’t have it in him to.

‘It hurts doens’t it?’ he said, leaning over me even as others started to call out for him to ‘Hurry the fuck up!’

I could say nothing.

‘Just hit back. Fight, Genie!’

‘Freddie,’ I heard Tim’s voice from somewhere above us. ‘Time’s up.’

‘I don’t care,’ Freddie snarled, his gaze darting to the side.

I used that moment to get free. Freddie’s distraction cost him his grip on me and I rolled away, scrambling to my feet and diving for my stick. I grabbed at in, falling to my knees and spinning so that the blunt end of the stick faced Freddie.

He stopped short in his chase. Grey eyes darkened and he reached out to grab the end of the stick, pushing it against my grip.

‘Never give your enemy something to fight you with,’ he said.

‘I haven’t.’

He pushed on the stick again, and the pointy end—the end I held—slipped free and jabbed softly into my stomach. I dropped my gaze to my hands, and let my hands slide away from the stick. Freddie tossed it aside, sighing.

He hauled me up to my feet, leading me away from the soft flooring so others could take our place. Tim trailed along behind, hands shoved into his pockets, gaze roaming about the hall watching the other fights going on. The slap of skin on skin, the knock of wood, the echoing twang of metal rang throughout the room and my ears now that my own fight was over.

‘Are you hurt?’ Freddie asked.

‘No,’ I said.

He stopped, reached out and grabbed my chin, tilting it this way and that so he could determine for himself how much damage he’d done.

Grey eyes became cloudy and a brooding look settled over his face. Apparently, he’d gotten in a few good hits. No doubt in a few hours I’d start to feel the throb of pain, but for now they didn’t hurt.

Not as much as disappointing him did.

Dear Reader,

This three part short story (called Somewhat Serendipitous) began as a simple micro fiction way back when. I wrote parts of this months ago, back before I changed the name of my novel to Extinguish and cut several characters.

Ant and Tim, though, have remained, and their relationship is one of my more enjoyable moments within Extinguish. I like the nuances that come from someone as mild and patient as Ant, when combined with someone as rough and wild as Tim.

If you’ve noticed a lot of Tim lately, that’s because he’s a beloved character. I am often drawn to him, and to his friendship with Ant, whenever I’m feeling stuck or out of ideas. There’s just something extra there that I don’t get to explore in Extinguish, that I love to get the chance to explore with my short stories and micro fictions.

I love this character exploration so much, the story turned into this giant series. If you’ve ever read fan-fiction, this would be a series of thirteen “one shots”. Each of these moments could be complete on their own as their own, but when put together, tell an overarching story.

I had a lot of fun with the layout and the structure, and weaving in little details and easter eggs. Whether or not it works is up to you, the reader, but regardless, I had fun.

So if you have time – each part is about 4,000 words long – I’d love for you to give them a read and let me know what you think.

Somewhat Serendipitous Part 1

Somewhat Serendipitous Part 2

Somewhat Serendipitous Part 3

Also, if you missed my update of micro fictions over the weekend, you can find them here in the month of May.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.